Posted 09/27/2018

Review Copy provided by Elden Pixels.

Overview
 

Alwa’s Awakening, created by Elden Pixels, is a challenging RPG puzzle platformer inspired by the classic NES era of gaming.

You play as Zoe, a heroine from

another world sent to help free

the citizens of Alwa from a

mystical being named Vicar,

and his four Protectors.

 

Traversing the land with the

help of your staff, you will search

for gems and orbs to power up your

spells, solve tricky puzzles using your wit and magic, defeat the four Protectors to collect their keys, and make your way to the top of the Altar of Echoes to face Vicar in combat.

 

The game will have you back tracking through a large interconnected map in order to make full use of your abilities.

 

I often found myself wracking my brain on how to solve a puzzle or overcome a platforming screen only to find a character upgrade later on that would provide the solution.

 

Elden Pixels is certainly no stranger to classic genres made famous on the NES and found inspiration from those 8-bit games while creating Alwa’s Awakening, which can clearly be felt through the authentic feel and sound.

 

If you are in the mood to go back to a Saturday morning gaming session in the 1980s, this game has got you covered.

Story

The simplicity of the story helped bring me right into those NES days, where the gameplay was in charge.

 

Characters you meet along the way will provide useful tips to help you in your journey and not bog you down with endless backstory and quests, but there are plenty of clues given seemingly at random from the cast of characters that may provide extra playtime for the completionist.

 

This style of “to the point” story telling allowed me to dive right into the game without any wasted time.

 

At a little under ten hours of play time to complete my first playthrough, without achieving 100%, it never felt like there was a moment where I reached a stopping point due to story.

 

I kept pushing further and further, being beckoned to do so only by my desire to keep playing and the hope of something new and exciting just past the next screen.

Gameplay

The controls in Alwa’s Awakening were designed with the NES controller in mind.

 

This makes the controls easy to pick up and difficult to master.

 

Zoe’s jump is floaty and allows for experimentation when testing out those risky gaps.

 

However, jumping isn’t the only move in your arsenal.

 

As Zoe, you have possession of a magical staff which, when combined with powerful gems, will allow you to cast different spells to aid you on your adventure.

 

You can create a block that works as both a stepping stone and a way to shield you from enemy attacks, a bubble you can stand on that will slowly float up for you to reach new heights, and a powerful lightning bolt to defeat your toughest foes and unlock doors.

 

With these three abilities, and the potential for upgrades throughout the game, you will have to find new ways to deal with the puzzles and enemies in your way, often using spells in succession to achieve your goal.

 

Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, using the technique of palette swapping to show difficulty, and each have their own style of attack.

 

Zoe can also fight in close combat, dealing damage to enemies with a quick whack of her staff.

 

This can be used as a defensive mechanic as well due to how an enemy can be interrupted during their attack animation.

 

It comes as a risk though, because you only have three hit points until your tragic defeat.

 

Luckily you can find plenty of save points throughout the land of Alwa, marked by star blocks above and below the door.

 

Be sure to save often, because death is certainly inevitable in this game, as you may find yourself at the unfortunate end of an enemy’s attack, falling into a pit of spikes, or drowning in water.

Audio & Visuals

Elden Pixels set out to make a game that harkened back to the 8-bit NES era and they achieved it wonderfully.

 

The beautiful pixel art features a color palette that feels familiar to gaming’s roots but with a modernized design.

 

Each background is stunning and character movements feel believable.

 

Attacks pop and flash and the visual effects on your spells are captivating.

 

The audio will also bring you back to those bygone days, with a chiptune soundtrack that’s so catchy you’ll find yourself dancing to the beat, both in game and out, while waiting on scrolling platforms and enemy pathing. 

Final Thoughts

Elden Pixels did a fantastic job creating a modern RPG puzzle platformer that looks and feels like a classic NES game.

 

At $9.99, this game is a great buy for anyone who is looking for that classic feel at an inexpensive price.

 

The portability and drop in/drop out gaming style that the Switch allows really lets you make the fullest of your time in Alwa, putting this game in a perfect spot for quick play sessions and long late nights.

 

With the potential for multiple playthroughs and the challenge of completing the game 100%, which unlocks a secret ending after the credits, everyone can find something to enjoy in Alwa’s Awakening!

 

Don’t miss this GEM of an indie game!

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